Hui 'Leo' Gao fled to China after Westpac bank accidentally deposited NZ$10m into his account
Hui 'Leo' Gao fled to China after Westpac bank accidentally deposited NZ$10m into his account

A New Zealand man who fled to China after a bank accidentally deposited millions of pounds into his account has pleaded guilty to theft.

"Accidental millionaire" Hui "Leo" Gao fled to China with his partner Kara Hurring after Westpac bank mistakenly gave him an overdraft of NZ$10m (£5m) in 2009 - 100 times his approved limit.

Within two days, Gao transferred the money into an overseas account and escaped to Hong Kong.

Goa had originally applied for a NZ$100,000 overdraft to help with his struggling business - a BP service station in New Zealand's Rotorua district on the North Island.

Rotorua district court documents state: "As soon as he realised the error made by Westpac allowed him access to the funds, the accused set about planning how he could transfer funds now available to him offshore."

An international manhunt lasting more than two years ended when he was arrested while trying to enter Hong Kong from China in September 2011 and was extradited to New Zealand.

Westpac discovered the error days after the money was transferred into Goa's account. He took NZ$6.8m from his account before the bank realised its mistake.

The bank retrieved about NZ$3m by reversing some of the transfers, but has never been able to recover the missing NZ$3.8m.

Hurring, 33, voluntarily returned to New Zealand early last year after the couple split up soon after having a child. She was found guilty of theft, attempted fraud and money laundering. She had pleaded not guilty during the four-day trial, claiming Gao had told her he won the lottery.

The defendants will be sentenced in August.